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A squiddy meal, a goosey girl, and moles of gnomes

Wriggled on June 5, 2022.

Things continued this week as they often do. Other things did not continue—as they also often do. Some new things started to happen, some unexpectedly, and some old things suddenly… stopped. It got weird when some things that had never happened before also stopped happening this week, but things don’t have to make sense around here—and they rarely do. Only one thing remained constant: Pnårp was hungry. And Pnårp only had eyes for pepperoni.

And so, as a hungry Pnårp is wont to do, I mooblesauntered down to the Cthulomat on Tuesday for a breakfast of disturbing and eldritch (but still pepperoni-based) foods: Live pepperoni worms, pepperoni squid, pepperoni octopus (extra pulpy), and other greasy, slimy, tentacular forms of spiced pork extruded into long, nubbly tubes.

On my mooblesaunter down Uranium-238 Drive, I mused, zito is the singular form of “ziti,” so is the singular form of “pepperoni” a “pepperono”? But that was neither here nor there now. What was here was a hungry, hangry Pnårp hankering for some squirming, wriggling pepperoni tubes!

Reaching the Cthulomat precisely between the Hour of the Wolf and the Hour of the Sneetch, I found it closed up tighter than a drum. After a bout of fretting and whinging befitting a frustrated toddler, I squatted down on the sidewalk, gargoyle-like (if a six-foot-tall man–squirrel can be said to look gargoyle-like), and waited. Hours passed. The Hour of the Capybara finally arrived. The Cthulomat would open any moment now. Perhaps even in half a moment.

Borbra McBorbley, the sole proprietor of the sole Cthulhu-themed automat known to exist anywhere on doG’s green Earth—arrived to unlock the front door, then went about shooing away the homeless gnomes who’d accreted overnight upon the steps and in the alcoves and vestibules. Borbra, if you recall, is a former Drunken Donuts cashier and an old friend of mine, from whom, over a decade ago, I had purchased a single coffee, and then, after one more gratuitous comma(,!) never saw again. (I do make friends easily—and remember them forever!) My pugnacious insistence that day that my Drunken Donuts coffee be bereft of rum, whiskey, whisky, and vodka—but infused with as much onion powder as the establishment had on hand—had caused a rather unhealful effect on poor Borbra: While I stood there doggedly demanding my onionated coffee, in an effort to shoo me away, she had transformed from a blonde little gosling into a giant, hideous, tentacled she-beast intent on devouring me alive with rows and rows of sharp, razor-like teeth set inside a hideous, aquiline beak. (Or was it the massive dose of radiation from all that uranium that caused her sudden mutation? It didn’t make sense, and it didn’t have to.)

I had escaped my brush with death that day, and Borbra—after destroying that Drunken Donuts and devouring sixteen customers in a rampage that made the Dunwich horror look like a banal ham sandwich—moved on to found her own eldritch restaurant. I returned to my own surreal life, regrew my brain, and forgot the whole affair. As did everyone else.

Back in the horrifying and grotesque present, I continued squatting somberly on the sidewalk outside the Cthulomat, practicing my man–gargoyle stance at a distance safe from being shooed away—lying in wait. (Well, squatting in wait, but who’s counting?)

Then Borbra saw me. Her anserine eyes widened in immediate recognition. A decade had passed but she remembered me all right. Everyone always remembers me.


I jammed another handful of wriggling pepperoni worms in my mouth. Borbra looked on helplessly. Other Cthulomat patrons looked on too, aghast. Everyone always looks on aghast.

I sat, more kangaroo-like than gargoyle-like now, at a table in the middle of the Cthulomat. I had ordered every pepperoni-based item on the menu and was now surrounded by more pepperoni than you could shake a pepperoni stick at. Surrounding that was a wide buffer of tensely empty space, and then surrounding that were all the other customers—transfixed by the scene that was unfurling before their beady eyes. Upon entering the Cthulomat, a curiously behatted man had begun shrieking and babbling in a high falsetto, which to the untrained ear sounded like the squeals and squeeorls of a capybara madly in heat. But to those “in the know,” the mellifluous sounds were the man recounting an epic tail of gnomeslaying which spanned five decades, starting in 1970, mere days after the man was born, and had yet to end. The man’s glorious, expectorant diatribe had stopped Borbra in her tracks—who after all could suffer the banalities of kitchen drudgery when a man of my stature was speechifying?—and all the other patrons too, after retreating to a safe distance behind their tables, also remained equally enthralled.

The man speechifying—that man was now seated in the exact same place I was seated. I was nowhere to be found. That man continued. I always continue.

Borbra flinched as he–I told the tale of running 68,000 gnomes through an organ grinder in 1997. More flinching was to be had as I–he continued chronicling my–his lifelong saga of slaying gnomes, right up until this year when I had to snare 88,088 Cantonese Canting Gnomes using a stale carton of wontons, then dispatch them all by twisting their gnomey little heads off. Pointy little fezzes and beards—thousands of beards—littered the ground once the deed was done, but I myself was far from done: After that ungrulious affair, I tracked down all the Wallachian Wainscoting Gnomes that had been infesting my palatial home since 1955, and smoked them out, too. Those horrid little fiends were herded into my front yard where I turned them into ground goose food (ground-up goose food, that is, not food for the warren-dwelling groundgoose, which only eats Bavarian and Bithynian gnomes).

I paused for a breath, then picked up another handful of pepperoni calamari. I grinned. Borbra tried to retreat but a sudden and urgent keening emitted by yours truly froze her in place. She was even still wearing sandals after all these years. I stopped wailing, cleared my throat, and continued my gripping tales of gnomeslaying and -slaughtering. I always continue.

The tale of the Moldavian Moldering Gnomes I flushed out of my basement came next. A result of a urinal-clogging mishap at the football stadium in 2018, these little buggers had begun to accrete in my cellar at a steady, flavious rate; by 2019 there had accumulated more than a moles’ worth of them, all moldering and festering and putrescing down there: 6.02 × 1023 stinking, suppurating gnomes, from one end of my bacon-ridden basement to the other. By 2019½ there were so many of them that the bacon even threatened to move out. Only my expert negotiating skills saved my bacon there!

Tmesis made a sudden appearance then as I realized I had a whole nother problem: While I had been busy chasing down the Cantonese and Moldavian gnomes, a different clutch of gnomes had emerged from my wainscoting, disassembled the whole lot of it, and carried all the oaken panels down into their underground caverns. No one knew what gnomes did with so much wainscoting, but indeed they had taken all of it. Now my kitchen—in fact, my entire palatial abode—was totally bereft of wainscoting! Not a single wainscot remained. Not one. I was abso-f———ing-lutely livid.

“But at least this time, I didn’t have to listen to the little f———ers whistlin’ ‘Pixie’!” I concluded that chapter of my gnomely saga. Borbra just stared in her goosey and be-sandaled way. (People always continue just staring.) One of the other patrons attempted escape through an electrical outlet but I stopped him with the sudden, explosive emission of a 1,046.502 Hz squeal at 128 dB. The patron resignedly slunk back to his seat. I continued my saga. Oh, how I continued. But rather than regale my readers with continuing my continuous tales of continual gnomeslaying, -slaughtering, -eviscerating, -defenestrating, and -dealating, I will skip to the end, so you can give your “Page Down” key a rest—

Twenty-five wriggling sticks of live pepperoni had been too much, even for a man with an iron–molybdenum stomach like me.

My earlier tmesis was now followed by an unexpected and abrupt bout of emesis, which quickly cleared the remaining customers out of the Cthulomat. Borbra seized the opportunity and ran off to the kitchen, honking and squeaking. I shrugged. My tale was complete—at least for today. I had more gnomes at home to extirpate, too—the gnomes never sleep. No, not ever. And the Cthulomat, I now noticed, was in dire need of a thorough pressure-washing. Gathering myself up, I straightened my hats and bolo ties and decided it was time to leave.

“The fog of war makes itself felt—there are too many contradictions,” I warned. “And furthermore: F———, f———, fuccant!!

With that, I picked up one more handful of writhing pepperocalamari and left.